Many in the developing world rely on crude indoor cookstoves for heat and food preparation. The incidence of childhood pneumonia and early mortality in these regions points to the public health threat of these cultural institutions, but as Gautam Yadama and Mark Katzman show, simply replacing the stoves may not be the simple solution that many presume. In Fires, Fuel, and the Fate of 3 Billion, they examine the difficult issues at play and the following slideshow extracts some of their photographic and scientific discourse on cookstove use in rural India shines a beautiful light on this underrepresented social and public health issue.
Man showing his solar charging panels
Unexpectedly, in midst of threadbare living, people adopt and invest in new technologies that they consider necessary. Living without electricity, but cannot do without a cell phone. Enter small general stores that supply solar panels for charging.
Woman in polka dots carrying wood
She endures the weight of a cultural expectation, compounded by household poverty, to shoulder a globally consequential burden: providing daily fuel for her household. They pour out of jungles carrying firewood to heat their homes, to cook hot meals for their families. Photograph by Mark Katzman.
woman on a bamboo platform cooking
Tradition-bound, communities on the river islands of Brahmaputra, Assam, keep the wood burning. Women get household fuel from three significant sources: driftwood from the river, Kalmu –dried stalks of a riverbank weed, or wood from Casuarina trees from outlying islands.
night fires burning in homes
Smoke billows from Missing tribal households, fires burning from morning until night, providing food and comfort. Missing households without these fires are not traditional.
kids running around outdoor fires and smoke from charcoal making
Making charcoal to meet the energy demands of a distant urban household takes its toll on the health of women and children. Children in the midst of rising smoke from large piles of burning invasive mesquite wood that mothers tend to all day.
farmers with bullocks weeding their crop
Providing access to clean, cost-effective energy systems for the poor is clearly a complex undertaking. Risk laden livelihoods dependent on rain-fed agriculture in drought prone regions complicate the dissemination and implementation of such innovations.